What is Unified Communications?
There are many definitions for Unified Communications (UC), the simplest being the ability to integrate communications to optimize business processes. This means taking real-time communications services and integrating them with non-real-time communications services, such as integrating instant messaging (chat) and IP telephony with unified messaging (voicemail, email, text message and fax). The idea is to grant you access to all of your communications across multiple devices and media types to improve your accessibility and improve the consistency of your experience. Ultimately, this helps to increase your productivity.
Advantages of Unified Communication
UC creates an environment for you to share ideas and collaborate with coworkers, clients, partners and suppliers. Sharing documents in Sharepoint, shared editing of documents in OneNote, shared contacts/resources/folders in Exchange and online white boards are a few examples of how unified communications reflects teamwork in a virtual environment.
For outside sales people and regular business travelers, UC provides the mobile workforce with secure access to company resources like advanced call forwarding Find Me Follow Me >> mobile integration into the company phone system and VPN access from laptops, tablets and smart phones.
By operating across multiple devices, users can enjoy better access from any location. Voicemail, email and other messages can all be accessed in your preferred format from any device.
UC integrates your communication with your applications to improve your business processes. This includes enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) and other data management tools. Productivity is also enhanced by real time communications like instant messaging (IM), conference calls, video conferences and virtual meeting spaces like WebEx or GoTo Meeting and speech activated tools.
UC solutions integrate presence indicators in real time which allows you to view the availability of other users on your networks and their communication preferences. This reduces time spent tracking users and leaving messages. If you can reach users on the first try, you can save time by escalating a message to a quick chat or conference call to quickly and efficiently resolve issues.
Benefits to Your Business
By integrating UC into your business and ensuring consistent usage from your employees, you will see an effect on your bottom line. Consider this scenario: you can save 20-30 minutes per employee for day just by reaching on the phone on the first try, reducing the number of emails and voicemails that require checking and responding to, reducing time spent on devices by using speech recognition and integrating mobile phones into your phone system. This will then create a work flow in which employees have easier access to communications and secure data and which in turn creates a better experience for customers calling in to your business that will have reduced wait times. In addition, by making collaboration easier on your staff, you can significantly reduce costs by eliminating unnecessary travel expenses and reducing the need for on-site IT staff.
To summarize, the bottom line about unified communications means increased productivity, reduced costs and an improved customer experience which ultimately increases revenue for your business.